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Greens amendments would retain fair access for smaller parties

Media Release
Lee Rhiannon 25 Feb 2013

Labor's moves to increase the nomination fee and the number of nominators required to register as a candidate would make it much harder for smaller parties and Independents to register and participate in elections and is therefore a risk to democracy, said Greens spokesperson for democracy Senator Lee Rhiannon who will move amendments in the Senate today.

The Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Improving Electoral Procedure) Bill 2012, being debated in the Senate this morning, seeks to double the nomination fee to $1,000 for a House of Representatives candidate and $2,000 for a Senate candidate and to increase the number of nominators required for an unendorsed candidate from 50 to 100. The Greens will move amendments to retain the current levels with regard to payments and the number of nominators.

"Doubling the nomination fee for candidates risks making the cost of running a full ticket in the Senate close to prohibitive for small players" said Senator Rhiannon.

"The Greens are concerned that this bill as it stands may throw up barriers for new parties and Independents. The danger is that these changes will entrench established parties who will be able to continue to run their group of candidates in every seat because they are able to afford it and can quickly get the number of nominators required.

"The government has not made the case in parliament to justify raising the bar for smaller parties and Independents. The risk to democracy of increasing the nomination fee and number of nominators outweighs the inconvenience of accommodating more players on the ballot box.

"I will move amendments to retain the existing nomination fee and number of nominators required.

"We need to ensure that in every election people who have a legitimate right to participate in our electoral process are readily able to do so", said Senator Rhiannon.

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